Why Cameron’s snap decision holds lessons for PR teams | Earlin’ PR abuse

Agencies should do more to extoll the virtues of quality, regularly updated and more expansive photography to their clients, perhaps to the extent of having a line item for it in all of their plans. It should be a primary consideration for every announcement, not a bolt-on a few days before. Not just for major announcements or high-profile campaigns, but to help in conveying concepts, illustrating claims and reinforcing the words of individuals.

This is quite a nice post. For once it’s a real PR person talking about real PR issues, rather than social media guff, but I think there is a social media slant to what Steve is saying. Photos are an underused resource, absolutely. They grab the eye, they are easily circulated, they can even become emblematic of a campaign or issue (the lone demonstrator stopping a fleet of tanks in Tiananmen Square for example, more latterly and locally Hazel Blears holding up her ‘refund’ cheque). As Steve Earl says here, they work in papers and (here comes my social media take on it) they work online too. So do videos and audio, and they should also be considered as part of any campaign. One day – one day – people will automatically think in multimedia and online, as well as ‘the media’, and then PR might just have caught up with the 21st century. Just as mobile goes mainstream.

Don’t buy anything from cheapbatteryshop.co.uk or emerald48s because they are scammers

Before you buy, shop around. Not just for the best deal, but for the honest deal. And if you find dishonest deals, by dishonest dealers, then make sure you warn people about it.

I’ve been ‘had’ twice recently.

Cheapbatteryshop.co.uk are scammers

Cheapbatteryshop.co.uk sold me a dud battery (you don’t have to click that link, in fact I don’t recommend it, I’m just doing it to throw bad SEO in their direction).

They make all the right noises: they’re a .co.uk domain; they say they have quality control; they have a UK address. So I was surprised and delighted to find that I could save a few bob if I bought my Dell 1545 laptop battery from them.

It arrived – eventually, late, from Hong Kong – and at first I have to confess my own stupidity: I didn’t think it would fit because it said it was for a Dell 1525 and, being a huge 9-cell battery, it just seemed too large for the battery bay. So I emailed them asking about this. What do you know? No response. Twice. This slightly concerned me.

Eventually I figured it out, and thought “Oh well, doesn’t really matter if they didn’t respond, it’s all ok now.” Except it wasn’t. The battery would fully charge, then work for an hour, then suddenly the charge would plummet. The machine would switch off. No slow release or warning from the battery indicator.

So I emailed them again, and again, and again. No response.

I’ve since found this: “Cheapbatteryshop.co.uk is a fake site,they are identity thieves.They do not answer e mails and paypal is recognized this site as a fake web site.never confirmed order,and I as a fool give credit card number trough fake paypal site.” Illiterate, but informative.

And this page tells a sad story of people either not receiving the goods from cheapbatteryshop.co.uk or, like me, receiving shoddy goods.

I’m prepared to accept that I should have known better, but when someone says “We do cherish every customer and have been trying hard to provide the best service for all our customers.You may contact us at any time if you have any enquiries or complaints” you believe them. Right up to the point you realise it was a lie.

I gave up on cheapbatteryshop.co.uk and put it down to experience.

Emerald48s (Daniel Sesay) on eBay is a scammer

I obviously didn’t let that experience count. I’ve just had the displeasure of dealing with someone through eBay selling fake USB sticks, who goes by the name of emerald48s, or Daniel Sesay, in Kent (again, don’t bother clicking the link, I’m just hoping that if someone searches against these details, they’ll see this post).

Again, all the right noises. He says: “The item has been used and tested and is no longer in packaging. It is however pretty new with no signs of damage. It has been tested and works perfectly.”

When it arrived – again, late – it looked fine, albeit a bit weird being just in an envelope with no invoice or documents of any kind. It wouldn’t format in NTFS which was strange. It apparently formatted in exFAT, so again I just shrugged and got on with it. I started trying to copy to it, but it kept stopping.

So I looked around and found a utility called H2Testw which fills a USB stick with files and checks them for integrity. The result? 59GB corrupted, of a supposed 64GB stick.

How does that square with “it has been tested and works perfectly”?

And then I found a page showing how to check for counterfeit goods. Yep, mine checked out, even as far as the paint coming off on my fingers.

So I got in touch with emerald48s. He suggested I return it. I asked for a return address. He said I should just file a Paypal claim, which I did. And he has at least honoured that, so at least, unlike with cheapbatteryshop.co.uk, I got my money back.

So I now feel much more comfortable about warning people about him. It seems emerald48s has form. Fightflashfraud warns us: “You can bet your bottom dollar that any flash drive sold on ebay by emerald48s will be a fake capacity counterfeit.

And, best of all, emerald48s has popped up on Fake Memory.com. In fact, right now, there’s an active thread all about emerald48s with choice phrases such as “What a load of BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and “Scammer!” Unfortunately emerald48s isn’t doing himself any favours by calling people “… Stupid. I never said I won’t refund if they did not work, secondly how could you say it is fake if you have not seen it, thirdly you post me on a forum to fight fakes with a false allegation, so I will register and respond, you are an idiot. I sent you that email to say I got from a friend and no very little about Kingston do I look like an expert in USB’s? Get a life.”

How does this square with “If you are unsure or have any questions, please ask. No question is silly. It is better than assuming. I will always answer to the best of my abilities.”

?

Daniel is also not really helping his cause in his communications with me either. When he said he was busy, I suggested it would make life easier for him not to sell fake USB sticks. His response: “my product description is clear”. Hmmm. All apart from the bit about it being fake, that is.

Then I found the web pages I mentioned above, and forwarded them to him suggesting he was famous. And this time: “I love being famous. Stop harassing me. Get a job. You will doing this for a long time. I don’t do USB’s anymore so your blog will out date. Thanks.”

Was I hassling him? Or was I just pointing out to him that other sites were saying negative things about him? Am I hassling him now? I do hope so. He did, after all, say he loved being famous.

I’d love to think Daniel Sesay, emerald48s won’t be selling any more fake USB sticks any more, but somehow I doubt it. He sold at least 60 of the units he sold me.

And unfortunately it seems cheapbatteryshop.co.uk is still in business, scamming people.

So what does this tell us? Well, for me, I’ve learned something I probably should have known beforehand: if it seems too good to be true, it often always is.

But I’ve also learned that these people can present themselves very credibly which is, I guess, the whole point of a con trick. And I think I’ve also learned that you need to do your research first. Just type the vendor’s name into Google and see what comes out (go ahead, click that link, the results are interesting). You’ll find things out that eBay can’t tell you. Emerald48s has a pretty good eBay record, for example. I do not know how.

Basically, at the end of the day, it’s caveat emptor – because the scammers are out there, and it’s up to you to stop yourself being scammed.

The Universal Process™. Or: the Gartner Hype Cycle of Life

Life. Work. Birth. Death. And everything in between. Read on.

I wrote some time ago about the process of writing. Unless I’m writing for myself – that is, when I had time for ‘recreational writing’, or even blogging for that matter – I tend to procrastinate. I sit in front of the monitor surrounded by swathes of research, I huff and I puff, I put my head in my hands, I wander off, stroke the cats, make a cup of tea, sit in the garden staring at a bush. I repeat this a few times, then, after the first paragraph or two, it’s there, in my head. I totally know where it’s going and what I’m doing and before I know it, the piece is written.

But then it needs redrafting, often several times, off my own bat and following feedback. In the end I’m heartily sick of it and I’m happy to dispatch it, but everyone seems happy with it. Then, some time later, I go through my own stuff and think “That’s pretty good. Did I really write that? I must have been intelligent back then. Perhaps I’m destroying my brain with too much TV/Guinness/social media.”

This hasn’t changed, and it’s telling me that it’s an essential part of the process. You need that time to fulminate. To ruminate. To think. People don’t pay you to think, but it is necessary. Then you become so familiar with something you just want rid of it. Then you look back on it a few weeks or months or years later, and you’re pretty pleased with what you did. It was all worth it in the end.

The more I work in other fields, the more I think this is a universal process. I’m going to call it the UP™.

An example: I used to be into home-based music production. It was a phase, albeit a fairly long one (about 8 years – you can hear the results here). The same would happen. I’d noodle a fair amount, then suddenly latch onto it and off I went. Then I would spend a very, very long time with the production. In the end, same thing: I had enough. But it had to be finished. So I would end up finishing it without really knowing if it was finished. And sometimes I listen to it even now and I quite like it. Does that make sense?

Another example: today, I put together a Facebook page for a client. I’ve done this before, but every client is different, and you pretty much find yourself starting from scratch every time. At first I was fairly overwhelmed. There were so many wrong ways to go about it, and I had to find the right way. So I looked through all the content I had – several times – then did some research about best practice, looked at what other people had done, etc etc. There was huffing and there was puffing, there was head in hands. There were cats stroked. Bushes were looked at. Tea was drunk.

About two hours later I was absolutely heading in the right direction. And now I’m really getting into it. And I thoroughly expect that, after we launch and promote it (and keep promoting it for the next few months) I will have had enough of it, and want to do something else instead. But I’m hoping the client will like it. And I’m hoping I’ll look back on it and like it too.

Copywriting, music, social media (and, for that matter, design and code, which is what I’m doing with the FB page). They all follow this pattern. Even research. I hate starting a social media audit. I love it when the figures come out. I hate having to keep plugging away and updating it. I love it when I look back and think I did a good job.

This process needs a model.

I like the Gartner Hype Cycle. I like its categories: the Trigger, the Peak of Inflated Expectations, the Trough of Disillusionment, the Slope of Enlightenment and finally the Plateau of Productivity. See below.

I think that applies to work, too, but with a different shape. My new categories? The Commission, the Trough of Despond, the upward Slope of Encouragement, the Peak of Productivity, the downward Slope of Dudgeon and finally, the Plateau of Reality. It’s the UP™. See below.

Let’s be philosophical. I wonder if life is like this? In which case The Commission is when mummy and daddy got friendly, the Trough of Despond is when you realise you’re probably not going to get that Ferrari (or in my case a Morgan, although my Spitfire is seeing me alright), the Upward Slope of Encouragement is when you think “Well, that’s ok, let’s focus on what’s important”, the Peak of Productivity is after you climb up (or my case, up a bit, across a bit, down a bit) the career ladder and start really enjoying life, the Downward Slope of Dudgeon is when you start confusing your grandchildren’s names with the cats and hoovering the garden, and the Plateau of Reality is… well, I don’t think I’m there yet. I’ll post you when I am.

Social media marketing: it’s not about you

Marketing isn’t about you. It’s about your audiences. But it’s surprising how often people get this the wrong way around.

These phrases crop up fairly often:

  • ” No one will be talking about us online”
  • “I really like sites with lots of animation on them”
  • “I don’t see why anyone would want to follow X”

The important words to notice here are “I” and “us” – because it really doesn’t matter what you think.

First, your individual preferences. OK, so you might like websites with lots of animation on them but you’re just one person. You have a gender (presumably), an age, a demographic. And it’s highly unlikely that your preferences match those of your audience. So if you’re running a structural engineering consultancy and you’re saying you like animations then that’s fine – but not if you’re a 20-something woman who thinks a polished brand is everything, while your audience is overwhelmingly 40-something males who just want facts.

Second, your expectations. Look, the web is really really big, and diverse, and weird, and getting bigger, more diverse and weirder all the time. I’ve totally given up predicting what I might find when I go online for a client. I’ve found entire Facebook pages dedicated to absolute all-c0nsuming hate for clients, and I’ve come across endearingly amateur videos singing their praises. You just cannot make any assumptions until you go out there and look.

The amazing thing about these statements is that they generally come from people who should know better – marketing types, PR types, comms people. It’s not about you. It’s about your audience, and it’s about research telling you what that audience is thinking or feeling, what your audience wants or needs, what they’re doing right now that they’d rather not be doing, or what they want to do but cannot.

Forget your instincts and hunches: they don’t cut it any more because you can go out there and find out. So go out there and find out.